New Protocol and Strategic Action Programme for the Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment of the Western Indian Ocean launched today
Nairobi, 1 April 2010 - Ministers and representatives of the 10 African countries sharing the Western Indian Ocean have signed a strategic new agreement to protect their marine environment. They have devised a 25-year programme of action aimed at ensuring efficient management of the marine and coastal environment in the larger Eastern and Southern African region.
The Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean has also been amended to take into account new provisions on emerging issues such as climate change and the need for an ecosystem-based management approach.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "The adoption of this important agreement signals a long process coming to fruition and sets a bright future for the Nairobi Convention. Thanks to the engagement and dedication of the parties to the Nairobi Convention, we can ensure that the unique ecosystems of the Western Indian Ocean can deliver sustainable development and well-being to the 60 million people who live and depend on its resources."
With the signing of the final agreement, the Western Indian Ocean region becomes one of the three regional seas in the world to have a regional agreement focused on the control of land-based activities degrading and or polluting the marine waters of the region. The other regions with a similar agreement include the Wider Caribbean and the Mediterranean Sea.
The President of the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries, Mr. Sateeaved Seebaluk of Mauritius said: "There is a great sense of achievement to see the positive conclusion of this process which has had its hard times, but a lot of progress has been made. Today, the Convention of Nairobi is one the successful convention in this part of the world."
The Indian Ocean, which is globally recognised for its unique biological richness and natural beauty, is one of the few remaining undisturbed areas of the world oceans with diverse ecosystems that provide invaluable goods and services to the growing population of the region. The economic value of the goods and services provided by these Western Indian Ocean marine ecosystems is estimated to be over 25 billion US Dollar, with fisheries and tourism as the two main direct contributors to the economies of the countries in the region.
However, countries sharing the Western Indian Ocean are now facing serious challenges related to the sustainable management of the coastal and marine environment. The action programme will address challenges related to increasing pollution of coastal waters, the destruction and degradation of critical habitats, changes in freshwater flow as well as challenges resulting from global climate change.
In addition, the agreement is expected to bind the governments towards a common objective of managing pollution from land-based sources and activities in order to protect and sustain the marine and coastal environment in the Western Indian Ocean.
Notes to Editors:
The 6th COP to the Nairobi Convention, organized from 29 March to 1 April 2010 by UNEP in close collaboration with the Government of Kenya as the host, and the Government of Mauritius as the Chair of the Bureau of the Convention, was held under the theme 'Sustaining Progress'.
The Conference brought together Ministers responsible for the environment and other government delegates from all ten Contracting Parties to the Nairobi Convention, along with international and regional experts, representatives of international, regional, national and local non-governmental organizations and members of civil society.
The project entitled Addressing land-based activities in the Western Indian Ocean (referred to as "WIO-LaB" in short) addresses some of the major environmental problems and issues related to the degradation of the marine and coastal environment resulting from land-based activities (LBA) in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. It represents a strong partnership between the countries of the WIO Region, the Norwegian government, UNEP, and the GEF and is designed to serve as a demonstration project for the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA/LBA). For more details please visit: http://www.wiolab.org/
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